Teaching By Teachers - Maybe No!
By MICHAEL HEBRON
PGA Master Professional, CI
Teachers normally described what they do as "teaching," but when it comes
to long-term learning there is a good chance a teacher did not teach us
what we have learned.
I have no first hand knowledge of how most people would define the term
"teaching." But after gathering information about learning from studies and
research by leading scientist, it's now my guess that what most people
believe about teaching and learning has fragmented long-term learning for
I did not write the last sentence without respect for different points of view
about teaching and learning. But for learning to improve it's important that
we use the latest findings about the nature of learning and change some of
our traditional views about making progress. Note: It seems that workable
learning environments are founded on student centered - teacher assisted
approaches. Effective approaches to education should be seen as
caretakers of learning skill-not teachers of subjects.
During the first half of my career as a golf instructor I tried to learn all I
could about the golf swing and playing the game. My business was growing
and I was very fortunate to have my work recognized by the PGA of
America, receiving two of their national awards. During this time, Golf
Magazine also named me as one of America's top fifty teachers. I was
training other instructors for the PGA of America, several PGA
organizations in Europe, Canada and Japan.
Then one day I had one of those Ah! moments that are a gift from
somewhere and I realized that some bright and able people were always
asking for the same advice. These people were not experiencing any long-
term learning. I then realized that I did not know how to help people learn
and retain insights that were personal in nature. So, over the last twelve
years I tried to become more familiar with the nature of learning.
The nature of learning could also be called the nature of "change" or the
nature of redirecting behavior. We learn to make changes or learn new
information by testing limits and pushing boundaries. Risk taking allows
learners to construct learning pathways and connections that did not
previously exist in their brain. People only learn what they are given the
opportunity to learn. Traditional teaching approaches often limit what
people can personalize. Information is never knowledge until it becomes
personal in nature.
When learners are given the opportunity to construct their own connections
and associations with information, the motivation for learning becomes
personal in nature. This makes the environments that any instructor is
working in more effective. Effective learning will always be dynamic (moving)
and individual (personal). There are guidelines that should be followed
when long-term learning is the goal. We improve our performance by
improving our learning potential with workable insights.
Learning is Learning
The University of Chicago, and other leading research centers, point out
that learning to strike a ball is no different neurologically (for the brain) then
learning anything else. Learning is learning and all learning is based on
interactions with environments that cause neurons in our brain to fire. In the
world of science, the 1990s were called the "decade of the brain" because
of all the new information that was uncovered about the brain and learning.
The brain is not only developed from our gene pool, the brain also grows
when messages (or information about interactions with the environment)
are fired from one of the 100 billion neurons in our brain to the other
neurons via synopsis or neurotransmitters. When neurons fire, it is a
reaction to man's interactions with his environment. This firing causes
synopsis (of which there are at least 10 trillion) in the brain to become a
bridge of information between other neurons. These bridges construct a
map of information about mankind's environments, helping to establish the
Note: The greater the number of interactions and the greater the variety in
these interactions, the greater the number of connections the brain will
develop (and the more the merrier as they say). Similar to how exercise
grows muscles in mankind's body,interactions with the environment cause
the brain's circuitry (or information connections between neurons) to
increase the growth of the brain.
Over time as we learned about our environment mankind taught himself to
adjust and survive. Engineering builds and reverse engineering adapts.
Mankind's "real" genius is his ability to reengineer and be a perfect self-
learner and a perfect self-teacher simultaneously, while adapting to his
ever changing environment. Note: Mankind by nature, first learns and then
teaches himself, on the other hand, some approaches to education try to
first teach, with the hope people will then learn.
Unfortunately, when people are not making progress they often believe
they have a shortcoming or lack some physical skill. Rarely, if ever do
people ask - Is there a more efficient way to learn? The answer is probably
yes! People who are making progress use information that is personal in
nature and that was gained through self-discovery. The "fuel" for learning
and progress is mankind's interactions with environments as they create
ideas that become the very engines that move learners on the road of self-
discovery. Workable learning approaches illuminate environments with the
goal of changing points of view. They are not telling people what to do.
The objective of workable learning approaches is to equip people who want
to make progress with the tools to confidentially manage their own learning.
The goal of workable learning environments is to ensure that people who
are trying to learn are improving their learning potential, broadening their
core subject knowledge IQs, and are growing personal development.
• People learn in conditions that grow their learning potential.
• People learn when they are excited about learning and not worried about
• People learn when "they can" determine what they need to achieve "their
• People learn best when they have the opportunity to develop insights
from their own experiences, not by following "How To" directions.
Learning and the Brain
Our brain uses 20 to 25% of all the oxygen humans take in and 15% of our
total blood supply. The brain is about 3 pounds, uses glucose as its food
supply, has enough electrical energy to light a 25-watt light bulb and has
100 billion neurons and over 10 trillion synopses. The nature of learning
should be taken into consideration, and we should have useful insights
about the brain to understand long-term progress.
Simply put, our brain is used for integrating sensory information, processing
facts, decision-making and memory. What a student can remember,
understand, and apply, is more important than what any book or instructor
has to say.
• The single most dynamic influence on learning, or production of
neurotransmitters is positive feedback.
• Long-term learning is based on problem solving skills that grow learning
• Messages are sent from one neuron to another via neurotransmitters.
• External factors (interactions with environments) influence the production
of various neurotransmitters.
• Production of neurotransmitters is increased by exercise, music, play,
meaningful relationships, affirming touch or smile.
• From birth through ten to eleven years of age, trillions of connections
(synapses) are wired and form bridges of information and establish the
• The higher the quality of synapses the quicker information can be
processed, with less energy.
• There are critical times in which the brain much be used for certain kinds
of development to take place. The brain works on the "use it or lose it"
• Most neutral connections occur between two and eleven years of age.
• As puberty approaches, two things occur: connections the brain finds
useful are made permanent, and there is selective elimination of those
connections not useful or not continually used.
• Intellectual activity develops surplus brain tissue.
• Intellectual exertion (problem solving), can spur neurons to branch out
like roots of a tree, and these extra connections can be tapped again if
• It is important to lay the groundwork for learning with problem solving
skills that grow the brain in early childhood.
• Critical years seem to be birth to 3 years old, but we can make new brain
connections throughout life, just not as well as we did during early
• Interactions and physical stimulation (play) determine how intricately the
neuro- circuitry of the brain is wired.
• Empowerment is giving students choices that empower them, and make
them feel responsible for their learning experiences.
• Important components for learning to occur: -Rich language that is
relevant. -Learning what is relevant to the experience.
• Use all senses to make learning relevant. -Nurturance security (safe
• All early learning happens through movement.
• See the brain as the "hardware" we are born with, and experiences via
stimulation as the "software" which determines how much of the hardware
• Multiple senses integrate information from different parts of the brain.
This seems to create more detailed learning and higher retention.
• The more senses that are involved in learning, the faster the acquisition
• Sensations are unorganized stimulus. Perceptions are organized
sensations. Conceptions are organized perceptions that lead to learning
• An individual's ability to process information is measured by reaction time.
• Children who exercise regularly do better in school.
• In classrooms, children need to be more physically active.
• Knowledge is retained longer if learners connect emotionally and
physically to material.
• Angles and dimensions are better understood by building a model
(problem solving) than doing a worksheet (drills).
• The brain grows when activities require problem solving.
• A strong relationship between physical activity and cognitive maintenance
thinking has been found. Exercise develops small blood vessels that carry
oxygen that nourishes the brain.
• Most researchers would agree that early movement experiences are
beneficial to optimal brain development of basic motor skills. Prenatal to
around the age of five.
• For fine motor control and timing the critical periods seems to be open
shortly after birth to about nine years old.
• Mature patterns for fundamental movement skills must be engaged at the
cognitive level (thinking-problem solving) in order to speed up acquisition
• A concept should be applied in a variety of environments.
• Learning conditions must be mentally challenging as well as physically
• Increasing the number of repetitions (drills) will not necessarily lead to
increased skill acquisition.
• Learning conditions should allow the application of the concept being
• External rhythm and verbal rehearsal make a difference.
• Learning conditions should become more "game like" or authentic.
• Long-term learning is based on solving problems and staying engaged.
• Practice-learning sessions should have the student making the decisions
in order for long-term learning to occur.
• Critical thinking and problem solving (self-discovery) increases retention.
• Fundamental concepts should be emphasized so students can apply
them to a variety of environments or movement patterns.
©Copyright 2003 Michael Hebron, Learning Golf, Inc™. All rights reserved.
© 2006, 2008 Michael Hebron all rights reserved